Those who follow me regularly know I love movies. I love them so much that I am fascinated by how they are made. Best thing about getting a DVD is the bonus material on “the making of”. Though I loved everything Dick Francis wrote, I especially loved his novel Wild Horses about the madness that is making a movie.
Since I’ve been reading about how to write screen plays, I’ve seen a whole new dimension to how a movie comes into being. The amazing Blake Snyder in his series of Save the Cat! books on writing screen plays tells what a person needs to know to get the bones of a movie into writing. Sadly, Mr. Snyder died in 2009, but his books and methods are as popular as ever.
As I’ve said in this blog before, when you have a new way of seeing things, suddenly all the world is new. I’ve begun to think about all the stories that “would make a great screen play!” If only that were true.
I recently watched Cocaine Bear. It was every bit as terrible and wonderful, hilarious and disgusting as you might imagine. And, yes, I have committed Barbenheimer, not all at once like some brave souls, but about a week apart. I can’t make a stand on which one to watch first, but as it happens, I saw Oppenheimer first. It was a great movie, but only part of that had to do with the script. It was visually stunning along with sound, acting, timing, all the bits that come together to make a movie happen well when it all comes together. Barbie had a very clever script and amazing sets. I have to confess, I was slightly disappointed and can’t exactly put my finger on why–perhaps because the pacing in the middle fell apart a bit. Still, the opening sequence alone was priceless.
The tricky thing about movies is they are such a collaboration. Even with great actors, a bad director can scupper the whole thing. Bad editing, inappropriate or lifeless score and sound, lousy effects all can hurt an otherwise great movie. Mr. Snyder points to the Tomb Raider sequel as an example of a movie that just didn’t work because we couldn’t care about the main character. Everything else can be right, but a “so what?” lead in his opinion doomed the end result. The poor performance at the box office bears him out.
I’ve begun to see patterns in movies and television shows that meet the requirements for the” beats” that must come to keep the story interesting. You might suspect that would be a problem like seeing the strings making the puppets dance across the stage. Instead, it fascinates me. I suspect it’s going to make me a better author of books and stories in general. Mind you, I haven’t gotten very deep into trying to write screen plays yet, but that is coming. And hopefully this awareness will help me succeed.
I just finished Mr. Snyder’s second book, Save the Cat ! Goes to the Movies. In it he breaks down movies into 10 popular genres and describes the beats of 50 landmark movies showing how they achieved their greatness. It makes me want to sit down with my streaming services and soak myself in great film. Alas, I have a garden to tend, a blog to write now and again, and my own adventures in writing a screenplay. Wish me luck.
Image: Cloud, a cat not currently in need of saving. By Jonathan Hutchins